Unveiling the Power of Beginner’s Mind: Insights from a Father-Daughter Bonding Experience.
This weekend, while playing with Gaia, she suggested we start drawing and painting. I asked her if she wanted me to draw and paint a dragon, and she said yes. Then, I asked her what she wanted to draw, and she pointed at me. So, as you can imagine, I was melting like ice cream at 40 degrees Celsius in Piazza del Popolo in Rome.
I diligently started drawing my dragon, observing her and her acute capacity to concentrate and flow without self-judgment. As usual, I was mesmerized by her. After a few minutes, she was ready to show me her work in progress, as I was too. When she showed me her drawing of myself, I saw her capacity for surrealism, with a style resembling Salvador Dali. It was as if she could see deeper into me, beyond the surface of her father.
A few tears escaped my eyes, and I told her that I was crying. She immediately looked into my eyes and firmly said, “no.” Then, I instinctively told her that I was crying with happiness, for such a moment of father-daughter interaction. I told her that I loved her unconditionally and that I was proud of her and honored by her drawing. She looked at me again and then continued painting with a shy smile.
While she resumed her mindful drawing, I was lost in thought. What had just happened? I pondered. I experience these emotions of love and gratitude almost weekly with her and her little brother Kai, so she has seen me cry many times. Then, I understood something.
She was giving me a real-time example of Shoshin (Zen Buddhism) or beginner’s mind. She was looking at me and our interaction as if it was always new. I was astonished by her ability, which made me reflect on the countless times my participants and clients have asked me about this when I share and show them the seven attitudes of mindfulness popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn. In many coaching, training, and consulting situations, we often lose this beginner’s mind and start seeing things through a filter shaped by past experiences. This prevents us from seeing things as they are, instead coloring them with our own experiences and memories. Systemically, I could say that we unconsciously tend to “exclude what it is” while including a diluted version of reality that looks more familiar, although it’s often “not there or non-existent.” What a beautiful personal example I now have. Thanks, Gaia.
Here are five key benefits of adopting a beginner’s mind, and I invite you all to practice it in your daily life:
Enhanced Creativity and Innovation: Approaching problems and challenges with a beginner’s mind can lead to more creative and innovative solutions. Without the constraints of “this is how it’s always been done,” people are free to think outside the box and explore new ideas. In organizations, this can lead to breakthroughs in products, services, and processes, keeping the business competitive and adaptive.
Increased Adaptability and Flexibility: In an ever-changing world, the ability to adapt is crucial. A beginner’s mind encourages a mentality of learning and growth, making individuals, teams, and organizations more flexible and better equipped to handle change. Whether it’s adapting to new technologies, market shifts, or internal changes within the organization, this mindset fosters resilience and a proactive approach to change.
Improved Collaboration and Team Dynamics: Teams that embrace a beginner’s mind tend to be more open to diverse perspectives and ideas. This inclusivity improves collaboration, as team members feel valued and heard, leading to a more harmonious and productive work environment. In organizations, this can translate to better team performance, higher employee satisfaction, and a culture that values diverse contributions.
Deeper Learning and Personal Development: For individuals, a beginner’s mind opens the door to deeper learning and personal development. Approaching new experiences and challenges without preconceived notions allows for a more authentic engagement with the subject matter, leading to a richer learning experience. In a group or organizational setting, this attitude can foster a culture of continuous learning and development, which is essential for personal and professional growth.
Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills: Approaching problems with a beginner’s mind encourages looking at situations from multiple angles and considering a wider range of potential solutions. This approach can lead to more effective problem-solving, as it avoids the tunnel vision that can come with experience and expertise. In an organizational context, this can mean more effective strategies, better crisis management, and innovative approaches to industry challenges.
In summary, a beginner’s mind enriches the individual experience, enhances team dynamics, and contributes to a more adaptive, innovative, and learning-oriented organization.